The Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) is a large species of armoured catfish (sometimes called "suckerfish", as they can stick to aquarium walls with their mouths). They have a large, spotted dark brown body. This listing is for juvenile plecos, though most common plecos will grow to be over 12" long.
While these fish are extremely popular in the hobby due to their availability and general hardiness, special considerations must be met to keep these animals thriving.
The Common Pleco will easily grow over 12" long, with some specimens commonly reaching 20"+. A single common pleco will need a minimum tank size of 75 gallons, due to their immense size (many hobbyists will recommend 100 gallons as the minimum size). These fish are also notorious for producing a lot of waste, the amount of which smaller tanks would not be able to handle.
These fish do best in large aquariums, with temperatures ranging from the low 70's through the low 80's. They will accept a pH range from 6.5 to 7.5. Common plecos can live for 20+ years and prefer their tank to have plenty of hiding spaces. These animals are nocturnal and prefer to hide during the day.
These fish can live with a wide variety of animals, including aggressive and semi-aggressive species. They are frequently kept with aggressive fish, such as cichlids, and semi-aggressive fish such as barbs or angelfish. They can be kept with larger docile fish species, too. Sometimes plecos will attempt to prey on other fish, but will only do this if they are not fed well enough. It is generally not recommended to keep more than one in the aquarium, as they can become territorial towards other plecos.
Plecos are generally easy to feed. While they will eat any algae you have growing in your tank, their diet should also be supplemented with other foods such as algae wafers or pellets, bottomfeeder pellets, blanched vegetables such as peas or zucchini, and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, krill, or bloodworms. We always recommend keeping a piece of driftwood in your aquarium for your pleco; while they enjoy hiding in driftwood, plecos will also eat the driftwood. This provides important dietary fiber for them, preventing issues such as bloating and constipation.
The Common pleco is generally purchased to eat algae off of surfaces. While these fish will eat algae, the amount of waste they produce will generally accelerate algae growth further. We don't recommend purchasing an animal to help with an algae problem; assess the conditions in your aquarium that allow algae to flourish and correct them (conditions such as too much light, or not frequent enough water changes causing chemicals such as phosphate or nitrate/nitrite to accumulate).